Watch: 25 years ago, Pakistan's Ijaz Ahmed destroyed India with 139 not out off 84 balls

Chasing 217, Pakistan reached home in just 26.2 overs in Lahore, thanks to the stunning hundred from Ijaz

Former Pakistan batsman Ijaz Ahmed. (ICC Twitter)
Former Pakistan batsman Ijaz Ahmed. (ICC Twitter)

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Sun 2 Oct 2022, 11:39 AM

Last updated: Sun 2 Oct 2022, 12:01 PM

Despite his formidable record as a batsman in international cricket, Ijaz Ahmed has never been ranked by the critics among the greatest batsmen Pakistan have produced.

But 25 years ago on this day - October 2, 1997 - Ijaz played the greatest ODI innings ever seen on Pakistan soil with an unbeaten 139 that came off just 84 balls.

That magical knock came against arch-rivals India at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

India toured Pakistan under Sachin Tendulkar's captaincy for a three-match one-day series in what was India's first cricket trip across the border in more than eight years.

India had won the second match by four wickets in Karachi despite having to chase a stiff total of 266 in a thrilling last-over finish after Pakistan had comprehensively beaten India in the first game in Hyderabad, Sindh, by five wickets.

So the series was on the line when both teams arrived in Lahore for the third and final match.

Pakistan bowlers managed to restrict India to a relatively low score of 216 all out despite Ajay Jadeja's fighting 76.

But any Indian hopes of putting up a fight with the ball was quashed by a stunning 80-run opening partnership between Shahid Afridi (47 off 23 balls) and Ijaz.

After Afridi fell, Ijaz shifted gears and pulverised the Indian attack featuring Abey Kuruvilla, Debasis Mohanty, Nilesh Kulkarni and Rajesh Chauhan, with a fabulous exhibition of lofted shots, pulls, flicks and off-drives as he reached his hundred off just 68 balls.

Having already hit 10 fours, Ijaz finished the game off with his ninth six of the night, a big hit over the long on boundary, as he scripted an unforgettable nine-wicket win for Pakistan in just 26.2 overs.

"This is a performance that Ijaz will remember when he is 100 years old. Absolutely sensational innings from Ijaz," Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle said on live air as Indian captain Tendulkar shook hands with Pakistan's hero after the end of the match.

Bhogle continued to shower Ijaz with the highest praise on live television: "This is one of the great one-day innings you will ever see, a great batting track but it required a great batsman to put his stamp on that."

It's been 25 years since Ijaz played that innings - an innings that nobody in cricket can ever forget.

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